Isla, 7, tells mum Yetta Nelson she doesn’t need help with her homework.
Isla, 7, tells mum Yetta Nelson she doesn’t need help with her homework.

Kids excel by doing their own homework

STEP back mums, kids will study harder with a less hands-on approach to homework help, a new study reveals.

The international research, published this month, found children aged between seven and 10 responded better if left to their own devices.

Mums helping every step of the way instead risked making their children becoming less interested in schoolwork.

University of Eastern Finland Assoc Prof Jaana Viljaranta, who completed the study, said: "One possible explanation is that when the mother gives her child an opportunity to do homework autonomously, the mother also sends out a message that she believes in the child's skills and capabilities."

"This in turn makes the child believe in him or herself, and in his or her skills and capabilities," she added.

The academic performance of 365 grade 2 and 4 students was compared with the amount of help they got from their mother and teacher as part of the study, which also involved Finland's University of Jyväskylä.

Australian Primary Principals Association president Dennis Yarrington said teachers and families needed to come to an understanding about how much homework help mums and dads provided.

Isla, 7, tells mum Yetta Nelson she doesn’t need help with her homework.
Isla, 7, tells mum Yetta Nelson she doesn’t need help with her homework.

"Parents should encourage kids to seek further information from the teacher if they need it," he said.

"Homework should not cause tension between family members - that causes a negative attitude towards further learning.

"When there is no homework to do, the best homework is to play, read or go for a walk with their parents."

Monash University senior lecturer Dr David Zyngier said homework was unnecessary for younger children and best suited for maths, science and literacy once they were older.

"Primary school children don't need homework per se,'' Dr Zyngier said. "They do enough work at school, it's hard enough for them to focus all day."

Oakleigh East mother Yetta Nelson said she became the student when helping daughter Isla, 7, with her maths homework.

"The way they teach mathematics now is very different to how I was taught - more often than not she is teaching me," Mrs Nelson said.

"The good thing about her teaching me is that I know it's learnt."

Mrs Nelson said she only helped with homework when Isla asked but still supervised her daughter's studies because she was easily distracted.

Helping around the house and playing were ways to incorporate learning into everyday life.

"I'll just ask her an equation and she'll just do that for me, so that's maths, and she writes a lot of stories on her own, so that's English" Mrs Nelson said.

"We do that all the time, I don't classify that as homework, that's just learning."

Children are better off left to their own devices when it comes to homework.
Children are better off left to their own devices when it comes to homework.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

GIVE your child responsibility for their homework by negotiating when they will do it.

HAVE children do something active and eat a nutritious snack before study.

BREAK up screen time. After 15 minutes of study, have children move to something else and come back to it.

GIVE children tasks they can complete on their own to build confidence.

ENCOURAGE kids to seek more information from their teacher if they need it.

SET homework goals and reward kids on reaching a new personal best.

INCORPORATE maths, science and literacy into household tasks like cooking and shopping.

CHILDREN have short attention spans. Tasks should last no more than 45 minutes.

READ to your child for 15 minutes a day.

GET kids ready for a good night's sleep by reading or relaxing no later than 7.30pm.

Source: Dennis Yarrington and Dr David Zyngier